Tag Archives: Malnourished

After 2015 Sexual Assault, Murder Of Jourdin A’Legacy Smith, Justice Served

.jpg photo of father of child who was murdered
Jamarkus Smith, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

Parents sent to prison in 2015 Fayetteville slaying, sex assault of 3-year-old daughter

Cumberland County, NC  –  A Fayetteville mother and father were sent to prison Monday for the 2015 sexual abuse and death of their malnourished 3-year-old daughter.

After a week of testimony and just over four hours of deliberation, a Cumberland County jury found Jamarkus Smith, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

.jpg photo of mother of child who was murdered
Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Jourdin’s mother and Smith’s wife, Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Testimony in Smith’s trial began July 19, with closing arguments on Friday.

Following the jury verdict, Smith professed his innocence when he addressed the court before sentencing.

“I showed them I was innocent,” he said.  “They know I’m innocent, and you know I’m innocent.  Everybody here knows.  How is that right?  At what point is the legal system about justice?”

No statements were made on behalf of Jourdin before Judge Claire Hill sentenced Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and a combined 25 to 35 years for the other charges. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Smith’s attorney, Kris Poppe, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.

As Smith was escorted from the courtroom Monday, he turned to two women in the gallery who appeared to be there on his behalf and said, “I didn’t do it.”

“I know you didn’t baby,” one of the women said.  “He didn’t do that.  I don’t care what nobody says.  He didn’t do it.”

According to the child’s autopsy report, the cause of death was pneumonia in the setting of malnutrition, neglect and sexual abuse.   She weighed just 28 pounds at the time of her death, and her body and genitals were riddled with lacerations and contusions, the report said.

Bennett-Smith’s sentencing came some 30 minutes after her husband’s.

Her defense attorney, Antonio Gerald, called Jourdin’s death a tragedy.

Gerald said that Bennett-Smith accepted responsibility for her role in Jourdin’s death and “agreed to testify and assist in any way to help bring justice for Jourdin.”

Bennett-Smith did not speak during the hearing but cried as she was sentenced to a minimum term 10 years, five months, and a maximum of 13 years, six months for the second-degree murder charge.

The judge declined Gerald’s request for a consolidated sentence and instead stacked the sentence for the other charges.

For the child abuse and sexual assault charges, she received a consecutive minimum sentence of four years, four months, and a maximum of more than 10 years in prison.  She will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years after release.

The judge also recommended a psychological evaluation for Bennett-Smith.

Gerald said that the court heard during her testimony at Smith’s trial that she was also a victim of assault as a child.

“These are not excuses for her actions of what she has pled guilty to, but only to shed some light as to what may have led her to be in this courtroom today,” he said.

Child Malnourished And Kept In Crate

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Child was malnourished and kept in a wooden crate.

Preliminary hearing held for 4 people
charged with child abuse in
Stone County, Missouri

STONE COUNTY, MO  –  A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday for four people charged for child abuse back in November.

Dessa A. Barton, 26, W. Dalton McLendon, 26, Kathreine Kost, 56, and Richard A Hilliker, 52, pleaded not guilty to their charges.  Each face charges of endangering the welfare of a child and child abuse.

In a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Stone County Prosecuting Attorney presented various pieces of evidence and called multiple witnesses to the stand.  Among witnesses were Stone County detectives as well as the ex-boyfriend of Dessa Barton, who is the mother of the child.

Detectives said the then 4-year-old boy suffered from extreme malnutrition.  They also said the young boy spent extended periods of time in a wooden crate constructed of pallets.

On Tuesday Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby showed a number of photos taken during a search of the home.

Photos showed the crate itself, a make-shift door for the crate as well as blankets and children’s clothing.  During testimonies, detectives said Dalton McLendon previously denied using the crate for the child, instead they say McLendon said it was used for a dog.

Detectives who gave testimony also said McLendon admitted to spanking the boy and sometimes using a belt on him.  Among the photos shared by Selby was a photo of a belt, which detectives described as “the belt.”

“[McLendon said the child] had this problem where he would pee himself,” Stone County detective Matthew Maggard said.

Maggard also said McLendon told him he had issues trying to get the boy to play with him.

“Dalton said he tried to play with [the child] but he never wanted to play with him because he seemed like a standoff child,” Maggard said in his testimony.

Selby also presented phone records between a few of the four.  All four were present during the hearing, but a few of the defense attorneys said some of the evidence did not pertain to each individuals case.

Detectives had also testified that medical personnel told them the child’s injuries were consistent with physical abuse.  One detective said the boy was quite skinny when they saw him.

One investigator who gave testimony said Barton told detectives in an interview that she did not know how her son had hurt himself.  They said Barton said she believed her son was causing self harm.  Detectives said she told them she thought her son need more psychiatric help than medical attention.

Investigators initially received a 911 call on November 6 about the child being unresponsive in a Billings home.  Emergency crews transported the him to a Springfield hospital, then airlifted him to a Kansas City hospital.

Who Could Starve A Child?

.jpg photo of man charged with death of 14 year old son
Antonio Juan Gonzalez, 33, charged with homicide, Child Abuse.

Father charged with homicide, Child Abuse after emaciated teen son found dead

MERCER COUNTY, PA  –  A Pennsylvania father is facing charges after his 14-year-old son who only weighed 70 pounds was found dead.

.jpg photo of man charged along with father in death of child
Paul Bacorn, 29, a friend of child’s father, charged with criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.

The emaciated teen was discovered outside of the family’s home Thursday morning.

Police say his father Antonio Juan Gonzalez is the one who called 911.

The teen was homeschooled and lived in the home with his father and his 4-year-old sister.

Police say their mother died years ago.

The little girl was average weight and seemed to be in good health.

She’s now in state custody.

Police say they can’t believe the conditions the children had to live in.

Lt. Dan Ekis/state police crime section commander:

“It was squalor conditions.  It was in a country setting.  The victim was found just inside the trailer,” said Lt. Dan Ekis, the state police crime section commander.  “We couldn’t begin to understand what this child went through in fourteen short years, but obviously the way he died, especially at the hands of his father, is especially disturbing.”

Paul Bacorn, a friend of the father, is also facing charges for endangering the welfare of a child and criminal conspiracy.

Meanwhile, authorities are waiting for an autopsy to confirm the teen’s cause of death.

VT Couple Accused Of Brutal Abuse

.jpg photo of man accused of brutal child abuse
Roland Withers, 35

Prosecutor:  Exam of ‘Ravenously Hungry’ Children Reveals Disturbing Child Abuse Case

“A Barre couple is accused of extensively harming children known to them—both physically and sexually”

Police and prosecutors in Vermont’s Washington County are calling an investigation into a Barre couple one of their most disturbing cases of alleged child abuse in recent memory.

.jpg photo of woman accused of brutal child abuse
Robin Benedict, 38

“It’s a really concerning fact pattern,” Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault said of the accusations against Robin Benedict, 38, and Roland Withers, 35.

Police affidavits filed with the court Friday outline accusations that the couple subjected multiple children who were known to them to extensive cruelty and harm.

Investigators said there were beatings—even threats of murder.  Interviews with the children revealed the kids could go days without food or be locked in closets for punishment, according to the affidavits.  One young child was allegedly made to drink alcohol, Thibault noted.

The adults are also accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting two children and forcing them to touch each other’s private parts.

Separate defense attorneys for both Benedict and Withers entered not guilty pleas on behalf of their clients to all counts against them.

In one of the interviews described in the affidavits, Robin Benedict said she was afraid Withers might seriously hurt her if she reported the alleged crimes.  However, prosecutors said she was a knowing participant in some of the alleged abuse.

Thibault noted the investigation is ongoing.

Judge Mary Morrissey ordered Benedict and Withers jailed without bail until at least their next court hearings.  In those hearings, defense attorneys may argue for the suspects to be released on conditions, and prosecutors could present evidence asking that they remain in jail until trial.

According to court paperwork, police learned about the situation after the children’s doctor called in an urgent report that they were “filthy and pale,” “ravenously hungry,” and in the pediatrician’s opinion, “at risk of recurrent injury, deprivation, and death.”

Those alleged victims are now in DCF custody.

In the suspects’ Barre neighborhood, the accusations were deeply upsetting to other parents.

“To hear even just one child is torture,” said Barre resident Amanda Plante.  “So I really do hope those kids can find peace.”

The chief of police in Barre said the community and state take sexual violence and crimes against children very seriously, and he wants survivors to know help is available.

“There are a lot of resources in the community and there are a lot of contact points,” said Chief Tim Bombardier.  “You can deal with your healthcare provider, you can go through victim advocate services, you can even contact the police department and ask to speak to me.”

UT Mother Charged With Felony Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Utah Mother arrested for felony child abuse
Mother arrested for failing to provide safety, proper care or food for her children.

Woman arrested for Child Abuse after
toddlers found in bug infested trailer
without any food

WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT  –  A woman has been booked into jail on a charge of child abuse after police say her children were found filthy and underfed in a trailer infested with cockroaches and other bugs.

According to a statement of probable cause, Virginia M. Martinez has been booked on one count of child abuse as a third-degree felony.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says they responded to Martinez’s home on the Shivwits Reservation April 7 due to a verbal argument between Martinez and a male subject.

Responding officers say Martinez was intoxicated, agitated and hard to reason with and that the inside of the trailer was “destroyed”.  Police say there were holes in the walls, floors and ceiling.  They said one bathroom had an inoperable toilet inside a shower, while in another bathroom the toilet worked but the shower was inoperable with holes in the floor.

Police say Martinez’s two children were filthy and a 3-year-old boy covered in mud was eating noodles off a counter that were so old they had dried out and changed color.  A 2-year-old girl was also found to be very dirty, and both children had bug bites on their bodies.  Police say the trailer was infested with cockroaches and other bugs.

Martinez did not have food in the home, documents state, and police say it appears she had no transportation or means to get food.  Police say a family member came to the home while officers were there and told them the woman is an addict but doesn’t want to go to rehab to get clean.

Police say they observed the 2-year-old girl playing near a broken porch and asked Martinez to keep an eye on the girl, but the woman told police the girl had fallen before and learned her lesson and would not fall again.  The child then fell off the porch and was checked out by medical personnel.

Martinez was arrested for child abuse and for failing to provide safety, proper care or food for her children.  Police state the Division of Child and Family Services were to take custody of both children.